My review of Codemasters and Feral Interactive’s GRID Autosport ($9.99) can easily be my shortest review ever: if you want the best racing game on mobile by far and one of the prettiest game ever to grace the platform, stop reading and go buy this game right now. Why? It’s simple, really. GRID Autosport is a fully premium experience with content that will take you forever to complete, a ton of ways to play, fantastic visuals, and highly customizable controls and difficulty level that will suit every player out there. Feral Interactive has really brought a console-quality game to iOS. The port of the game is almost perfect, but expect your battery to drain faster than the gas tank of a supercar and also the rare frame drops when visuals are turned up (even on an iPhone X). Despite these small issues, GRID Autosport is a fantastic game and one racing fans have been craving for.
GRID Autosport was originally released in 2015 for PC and last-gen consoles and represented an attempt by developer Codemasters to bring the series back towards a more authentic racing game (the previous entry in the series, GRID 2, leaned a bit too much towards accessibility rather than realism). And even after just a few laps with a few different cars, I could see that GRID is indeed a demanding, realistic racing game that will challenge even the most experienced racing game player out there. I’ve been playing around with different cars to get a feel of how they handle, and I’ve been amazed at how differently each type of car drives. If you try and drive an open wheel car like you drive a stock car, you’ll fly out of that track so fast you won’t know what happened. This is a realistic racing game first and foremost, and that’s what I love about it.
A game with a realistic driving model that nicely emulates the game’s 100 cars is great, but it wouldn’t be much fun if GRID didn’t give players different ways and scenarios to race. The amount of content in GRID is pretty crazy and is nothing you’ve ever seen before in a game of this genre. Where do I start? For instance, you can start a career in 5 different disciplines (Touring, Endurance, Open Wheel, Tuner, and Street). In those careers, you get to pick a team (each with its own team target, sponsor objectives, and teammates who have their own attributes), and then race in various events, accumulating points and glory. Each of the disciplines has very different cars and tracks, so there’s plenty of variety to be found there.
If you don’t feel like doing a career (who needs that responsibility), you can just go for Drag championships, Touring, and Sprint Cups, make your own custom championships, do a quick Time Trial or Quick Race, and much, much more. You even have other fun modes like one where the last car in the race gets eliminated every few seconds, a demolition derby, a drift mode, and plenty more. And the best part is that all this content is unlocked and not hidden behind paywalls or timers. You can race in any way you like for as long as you like.
As you would expect from a game that has so many different modes and ways to race, GRID has around 100 cars and 100 circuits, all of them gorgeously rendered (as you can see from the various screenshots peppered across this review). While not every car manufacturer is in the game and your favorite track might not be included, there are so many different cars to race across so many different tracks that you’ll have to play for a long, long time before you’ve ran out of content. And I really like how I can race with cars as different as a supercar or a Mini Cooper since each car requires its own approach and is fun to learn.
GRID probably sounds intimidating so far, and to a degree it really is. This is a serious racing simulator (the game even reminds you of that when you start playing). The good news for those who aren’t that into demanding racing games is that the game allows you to make it as easy or as demanding as you want. GRID has several difficulty levels including custom difficulty, which lets you choose automatic or manual gears, various AI levels, a Racing Line, Traction Control and ABS, and even Handling Assist.
You can have the car almost drive itself if you want or have no assists on, the best AI, manual gears, and probably smash your car immediately. And you also have flashbacks, which allow you to rewind when you make a mistake, a great feature given that this is a mobile game and, well, life happens. I fiddled around with the settings quite a bit until a found the one that gave me enough challenge to make it fun but also allowed me to race without killing myself at every turn. And those who are really into cars can even set up every car to their liking, messing with things like gear ratios, differentials, downforce, and so on. The AI is fun to race against and doesn’t just stick on the race line (which really bothers me in racing games). It’s still an AI, but it’s a pretty fun one to take on.
GRID lets you use all kinds of control methods, ranging from tilt to a gamepad, and all of those are highly customizable. That allows you to play the game on a mobile phone with tilt controls if you want or an iPad with am MFi controller. While I had to spent some time customizing my controls, I found that once I did that, I could drive all kinds of cars quite well. The game’s controls are pretty responsive except from some odd (and rare) situations where I felt that my touch input wasn’t registering. I mostly play it on an iPhone X using tilt controls, and I’ve been having a blast. The game uses haptic feedback really well, and you’ll feel everything, from the tires losing traction to the car riding the curbs to all kinds of other driving-related sensations. And you can even use Force Touch, which allows you to better control acceleration and braking.
In terms of performance and of the mobile porting of the game, Feral Interactive did a good job. GRID is really smooth on an iPhone X, but I’ve had some weird slowdowns on occasions that weren’t because of too many cars on the screen or anything like that. I suspect it might be a memory leak or a bug that I hope gets fixed because when racing at high speeds, any little stutter will cause you to fly off the track. I’m glad we have those flashbacks because they do help remedy any stutter-related crashes. And, as you would expect from any game with visuals like GRID‘s, your battery will drain fast and the phone to get warm. It’s the price we pay for playing such complex games on such compact devices. There’s a battery saving option that turns down the visuals, which was a great feature to include in this port.
Speaking of visuals, GRID is gorgeous. The cars, the tracks, everything about the game looks amazing. You honestly can’t always tell if you’re watching gameplay video or a cut-scene. And it’s not just the visuals that are great; the sound is also spot on, with car sounds meticulously recreated and your race mechanic always chattering in your ear. It’s really the kind of game you’ll want to use to show off your new phone, especially if you have an iPhone X since the game takes over the whole screen (and no, the notch isn’t in the way at all).
Is GRID Autosport a perfect game? No, but it’s pretty close to that. For instance, the menus could have been all on one screen so I don’t have to scroll right and left all the time. And maybe some of the text could have been slightly larger on a phone. But this is me being nitpicky because GRID is a really amazing mobile game that fans of racing should buy immediately. Buying a game with so much content and one that plays so well for just $9.99 almost makes me feel guilty (almost). GRID Autosport is a great port of a great game, and despite a few little issues, it should be a no brainer. If you decide to grab it, keep in mind that it takes about 6 GB on your device and will only play (or at least play well) on an iPhone SE, iPhone 7 or newer, iPad (2017), iPad Pros, and requires iOS 11. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a supercar to drive down a long, long straight.